Sunday, April 24, 2011

Our First Weekend in Jeonju

Last weekend we were very excited to have two days off to explore our new city. Spring is upon Jeonju, and there are wildflowers everywhere. The picture at left was taken on the mountain that is across the street from our compartment (that's not a typo - it's so small that calling it an "apartment" is an exaggeration).

Yes, there is a mountain (well, a very large hill with steep trails) across the street from our place. We tried to walk to the top of it last Sunday, but we were not dressed properly for it and it nearly killed my stubby legs. We are going to take it on again this Sunday, equipped with proper footwear and a water bottle.

As you can see, the trail is made of natural logs and rocks, and it's basically straight up with almost no switch-backs. There are spots along the way that are a bit wider so that you can stop and rest. The first time we attempted it I was amazed by the numerous ajumas who breezed right by my sweating, wheezing bulk. We will make it to the top today if it kills me...

We also did a day of urban sightseeing. We began by investigating the Jeonju Hanok Village, a section of town that consists of several hundred traditional Korean houses, many dating from the 1500s. Most are still used as private residences, but the main streets are a major tourist atttraction. There are tons of restaurants, coffee and tea houses, and shops selling Jeonju crafts, as well as museums and historical sites. I have been to several historical towns like this (Colonial Williamsburg, Old Salem, etc.) and this one is by far the most extensive. There are so many tiny winding streets that one could spend weeks exploring it - we commented that it needs to be the site of a James Bond chase scene...

No post on our Korean outings would be complete without mentioning what we ate. Thus far, there is a very short list of Korean foods that I would prefer to not eat again, and the "cup o' bugs" is at the top. For a mere 2000 Won ($1.85), you too can acquire a cup of silkworm pupae boiled in some kind of broth.

These are the same bugs of Steve, Don't Eat It! fame, except mine were not canned and thus fresher... which, to be honest, was not much of an advantage. They were salty and cruchy with a squishy center that tasted a lot like slightly burned celery. The legs are an issue, as they tend to get lose in your mouth and end up between your teeth. I will not order them again, but I heartily recommend that everyone try them, just for the experience. Although our Korean friend Kate has never tried them, Becky was a hero. She popped one into her mouth and chewed thoughtfully. This picture tells you everything you need to know...

The remaining pictures are of various historical sites in and around the Hanok Village. We were just wandering from one neat thing to another all day, so these pictures lack the kind of explanatory material  I'd normally give - I have vowed to be more organized about recording the names of the places shown in the future.


  1. It looks beautiful! However, if I ever do make it over there, I am NOT trying the cup 'o bugs!

  2. I love that last one of Becky with her hair all flared, a la fashion shoot or shampoo commercial. =)

    It sounds like you crazy kids are having an awesome time - keep the updates coming!

  3. It occurs to me that I might like Korea more than China, but I'd most likely starve. I think I'm more of a Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean adventurer when it comes to cuisine.

    Glad you are blogging about everything and having so many good experiences :)

  4. Amber - the cup o' bugs is optional for you, but if y'all visit I promise to ridicule Eric into trying them. ;)

    We will keep posting updates. We have pics to post from today's successful hike to the top of the mountain, as well as shots of the shopping district and, of course, more food. :D

  5. Wow! Great pictures. Looks like Becky could have used a 1554 to wash those bugs down with. Looks beautiful over there and I hope we can get over to visit.

  6. Fleur - My hair did that at all the historical sites. Were they built with flared hair in mind? We'll never know...

    Poet Abroad - Even if you did hate Korean food (which boggles my mind), you wouldn't starve. There's a Western-style bakery on just about every block, and the breads are yuuuummmmy.

    Link14 - I hope so too! Linus and I keep planning your visit even though it's months away. I miss you guys!

  7. I know you guys are probably working a lot and spending a lot of time having actual proper adventures in your new home, but I hope you update A LOT because I'm totally excited about living vicariously through you guys. I'd love to some visit someday, although I have no idea where the hell I'd get the money and most of my luggage would be filled with food cuz as you know I've never met an asian dish I didn't hate (and that's before bugs get involved! Yeesh!).

    Those pictures are amazing and I totally can't wait to see more.